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Galleria Maurer Zilioli Presents Exhibition of Photos of Regions that have Been Devastated by Forest Fires
Stefania Beretta, Dittico In memoriam, 120x240 cm, 2006. Photo: Courtesy Galleria Maurer Zilioli, Italy.

BRESCIA.- In this series of photographs entitled In Memoriam, Stefania Beretta (b. in Vacallo, Switzerland, in 1957) from Ticino has devoted herself to regions in Italy, France and Ticino that have been devastated by forest fires. An exhibition showing this group of works has already been presented, in 2009, at the Museo Cantonale d’Arte in Lugano, which provided an opportunity for a first presentation in Brescia.

The photographer approaches her subject matter from a Conceptual angle. Each group of works has been meticulously prepared in preliminary studies and in on-site ‘field research’. Only then are ‘portrayals’ of selected places and motifs printed in a 120 x 120 format, occasionally in pairs forming a diptych to reinforce and intensify their impact or they are confronted with, and supplemented by, a monochrome picture field. The author is not concerned with narrative or objective documentation of a specific geographic locality but rather with memorably capturing a state of being and the conditions specific to it. Traces left by what has taken place bear witness to it, developing a poetic, still-life-like and melancholy aesthetic of their own, which Beretta heightens through deliberate choice of detail, through working over her negatives, subjecting their material to deliberate ‘arson’, through blurring and interventions in the composition. This atmosphere is the focus of her attention.

No wonder that the photographer always feels such a strong commitment, and this goes for other projects as well, to those things that happen without being recorded (‘... che accadono senza essere ricordate.’), casually noted facts that are subsequently deleted one after the other from one’s consciousness. Regardless of whether commissioned work is concerned, such as the Il Gottardo project (1997: for Fondazione Galleria Gottardo di Lugano) and Cave – marble quarries in Sicily (2006: commissioned by Fondazione Credito Valtellinese) or free photo studies such as Holy Places and Trop, the focus is always on achieving the greatest possible concentration in the individual work as well as conceptually circling about a motif in a series. Thus a subject is lent dignity and permanence both in the detail and as a whole: In Memoriam.

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